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An armchair for your Fendi

The Armchair of a Thousand Eyes is a unique collaboration between designer labels Fendi and Campana Brothers that has caught the fashion world's fancy

Priya Kumari Rana 

Fendi and Campana Brothers: The armchair of thousand eyes

Imagine and rolled up into a stack of eye-popping furniture, spread over 2.5 million sq ft in Italy’s fashion capital, Milan, and you get the world's largest furniture fair, the Salon del Mobile. And when you marry a venerable Roman fashion house with one of the world’s biggest designer labels, the result is bound to be unpredictable and stylish to its last seam. The ironic, striking Armchair of a Thousand Eyes is one of the fair’s most talked-about pieces this year, and not without reason: it combines decades of fur know-how by the artisans of luxury house with contemporary Brazilian creativity.

Over a hundred “bag bugs” —muppet-like bag charms that retail for about $700 a pop and have loyalists scrambling for them via pre-orders — have been assembled and hand-sewn by Fernando and Humberto Campana onto a stainless-steel banquette to create this colourful armchair. Of the Campana brothers, Silvia Venturini Fendi, third generation of family and creative director (with designer Karl Lagerfeld) says, “I’ve known and followed Fernando and Humberto for several years. We share the same passion for creativity and love for Brazil.” Tropical birds sighted in the South American nation are what originally inspired for the body less bag bugs. “It has come naturally to me to think of the Campanas for this armchair, as well as for their use of objects in such unexpected ways,” she says.

Fendi and fur have been synonymous ever since the fashion house opened its doors in 1925. Along came Karl Lagerfeld and injected the word “fun” into “fur” into Fendi — “FF” is today one of the world’s most recognisable logos. So great is the brand’s love of the modern that it has been collaborating at Design Miami with young, cutting-edge designers such as the since 2008.

For this armchair, the Campanas added a touch of luxury, finishing the structure in gilded brass and using colourful furs of kidassia goat, Mongolian lamb, shearling and rabbit, all hand-sewn on canvas. “When I saw the bag bugs for the very first time, I thought that they would be perfect for creating a striking chair. A year later it happened, because of Fendi,” say the Campanas, whose grandparents hail from Tuscany and Ferrara in Italy. “It was like the universe conspiring in our favour. Plus, we embody this blend between Italy and Brazil.”

The brothers have been known to use simple materials even in collaborations with luxury houses such as Fendi. “What’s really important is to rediscover traditions that have disappeared. We’re interested in materials, from the poor to the more precious ones, and want to convey our vision of a person who lives in a new world. Brazil is only 500 years old,” says Humberto Campana. “Working with fur is interesting; a single cut can create an entirely different shape.” Two years ago, they made unique, geometrically-cut pieces of fur for Fendi for furnishings presented at the Galleria O in Rome, Design Miami in Basel and a winter fair in Monte Carlo, working every day for a month in Fendi’s Roman atelier to create two chairs, made of kidassia fur and wood.

Asked how he and his brother work together, Humberto admits he’s “more hands-on, practical, while Fernando is more creative”. In the constantly evolving world of design, communication is key. “We have a common dialogue in order to create each piece. We work in synergy,” says Humberto.

First Published: Sat, June 06 2015. 00:17 IST